This post by my cyberfriend Pastor Hans Fiene encapsulates so much of my own thinking on missions, outreach, and the place of buildings and such, I thought that I had actually written it in my sleep and morphed it into his brain. Okay, that’s a really weird sentence, but you get the idea.
Districts are cutting campus ministries left and right. Frankly, districts are cutting ministries left and right. Certainly this is because of financial deficits, and I am acutely aware of how important and how difficult such decisions are.
I can remember vividly the smell of my grandmother Ardis Peperkorn’s basement in Julesburg, Colorado. It was musty and strange. As I dug around the farthest corners, I found toys left from the 40s, tools I had never seen before, treasures under every box. Yes, I was snoopy. But that place spelled HOME and FAMILY for me in a way which nothing else could ever do. I’m all in favor of vacations to far away places, but in terms of developing long term memory and connection, there is simply nothing quite like the 80 year old home. It is irreplaceable.
The Church is rooted in the Incarnation. God comes in real time and space for us men and for our salvation, to quote the Creed. There is an ordinariness and sacredness to churches that transcends square feet, bricks and mortar. For the high school graduate who is away from home for the first time in a strange place, it is hard to overestimate the importance of having a physical place to go to in order to receive God’s gifts. For the five year old, it becomes a new home with a bigger family. That list can go on and on.
Abandoning buildings in the middle of huge campuses across the country in favor of endowment funds for the latest missional fad is absurd. It’s as absurd as abandoning seminary education on campuses to deployed distance learning and “mentoring” programs with little or no theological grounding. We would never consider doing that.